Andrea Rembeck’s whimsical collection for little girls, Tutu Du Monde, has captured the hearts of adults and children, thanks to its larger-than-life party wear. When she’s not running her business, Rembeck likes to take time off with her daughter, Alyna, in Tokyo – a city she says “feels calm and welcoming despite its size. It’s the perfect place to take kids.” Following are her child-friendly suggestions for where to go in Japan’s modern capital.
Claska is a beautiful boutique property. Designed by Tei Shuwa, it has 21 uniquely designed rooms. I recommend staying in one of the DIY rooms, where the design and decorative accents are one-offs. The Tatami rooms are the perfect blend of traditional and contemporary design and give a real sense of Japanese values and philosophy. They are both wabi-sabi (austere beauty) and iki (refined style) – fundamental Japanese aesthetic ideals.What’s also special about Claska is its rooftop terrace, studio and guestrooms, which can be used for a photographic shoot… or just for taking a gorgeous Instagram snap.
You’ll find the best pancakes in town at Ivy Place in Daikanyama, a neighbourhood I’d describe as “hippy chic”. Ivy Place is close to heaps of trendy stores for kids, including Caramel Baby & Child and Bonpoint. Japan’s flagship Bonton – an incredible children’s fashion store – and Kodomo Beams are also nearby. The curated section of books and toys at Daikanyama Tsutaya is worth a visit, too.
Harajuku daytrip: Harajuku is known internationally as a centre of Japanese youth culture and fashion. This area is jam-packed with boutiques, fashion malls and chain stores. Every single day of the year, tens of thousands of people come here to shop, hang out and search out the latest trends. Your kids won’t believe their eyes when they see a raccoon being paraded in costume (of course!), six lapdogs in matching outfits and monogrammed sequinned sunglasses, and pink versions of the Gothic Lolitas – which look a little like pastel-clad extras from a Tim Burton film.
Art Aquarium:This is a one-of-a-kind memory-making outing. Thousands of goldfish swim in uniquely shaped tanks illuminated with colourful lighting, creating a mysterious and calming atmosphere for the whole family to enjoy. Among the highlights is a massive lotus-shaped tank. There’s nothing like this at home!
There are so many options for boutique shopping for kids in Tokyo. The children’s section at Isetan has a great range of toys and designer threads (think Gucci and Dior) to splurge on. Kiddy Land is a must, too. This self-described “toy paradise” is four levels of plush kawaii (cute) goods, with gifts tailored to festivals such as Halloween, plus a wide selection of famous Japanese creations, like Hello Kitty. It’s every little person’s dream come true – only better!
Put Ito-ya on your list, as well. It was founded in 1904 but is definitely not stuck in its ways. A mash-up of traditional and contemporary, this nine-storey stationery emporium is a popular destination for anyone who is keen to get involved in Tokyo’s obsession with stationery. On its bustling floors you’ll find calligraphy tools, high-tech pens, paper products of all shapes and sizes, beautiful origami paper, fans, fabrics and cards – all of which have been artfully curated. It’s a great place for your kids to be inspired while you pick up some gifts for yourself.
Best place for R&R
Do try an onsen (hot spring, pictured). Just a little over an hour from Tokyo is the town of Atami. While there are many onsen towns around Tokyo, I’d recommend staying at Risonare Atami because it has one of the biggest tree houses in the world and seasonal activities such as picking green tea leaves or pounding mochi rice. The organised activities and professional babysitting services take care of the kids while you relax in the hot springs or indulge in a massage.